Category Archives: Uncategorized

The City is More Than Human

Reposted from NEW BOOKS Network

FREDERICK L. BROWN
The City is More Than Human
An Animal History of Seattle

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON PRESS 2016
March 30, 2018

Review by Stephen Hausmann

Not all city dwellers are bipedal, according to Frederick L. Brown author of The City is More Than Human: An Animal History of Seattle (University of Washington Press, 2016). The history of Seattle, and all cities, is as much about its non-human inhabitants as its human ones, argues Brown, an independent scholar working on a contractual basis with the National Park Service. Salish-speaking people, the earliest inhabitants of the Puget Sound, had myriad relationships with animals. They thought of them as important symbols and as spiritual guides, and used them as a critical resource base.

Read more and listen to Podcast here.

Thanks DMF at Synthetic Zero for recommending this post.

Image and book here.

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On the Rhetoric of Painting

by Joshua Mason, Fieldwork Studios

JoshuaMason_EruptionAgainsttheSun

Eruption Against the Sun, Joshua Mason

As an emergent feature of the Sun’s energy economy, organic life is subject to entropic necessity. Life as a manifestation of necrogenic vitality is inherently entwined with death. Painting, as an intensification of life, is an artifact of the humic indwelling. It is earthbound, composed of the nigredo of Earth. As an artifact of time’s arrow, painting is founded on a millennia of extinctions.

Painting is a confrontation with death because it is an intensification of life. What I mean by that is perhaps that the painter is one who evokes images out of the chaos of the world, and this process is an intensification of being as it confronts directly the materiality of the world. This confrontation with materials is a confrontation with catastrophe, even Becoming itself. Death is a vector of exteriorization or that loosening into the abyss. The life/death is in every mark, every instant impact of the material, as there persists the cyclical trajectory: life, death, rebirth, life, death, rebirth…

…And so it is with everything else: energies are never created or destroyed, only transformed from one to another.

The symbolic dimension of life/death ungrounds us: life, as an emergent feature of the solar economy, does not exist on a solid foundation. Everything is in a process of transformation. This process-oriented reality is unsettling for our identity. Reified and static wholes collapse in the realization that all matter is in a state of constant change.

This constant change is indicative of sheer potency, as nature-naturing or nature doing what nature does. Nature-naturing never ceases enumerations, contrasts, combinations spatially, linearly or chromatically. This ought to inform the materiality of practice.

The Moderns preached constraints of a particular medium, and later, the redefinition in terms of specific productions of meaning. This has to do with the construction of general cultural categories and typologies of art, which are both necessary and important, but little to do with the conditions – natural, instinctual, preexistent. There is the energy of nature-naturing, as sheer potency. From this position, which is a vanishing point because it is preordinal, the entire horizon of material embodiment and the enunciative field are encompassed. Although it is not possible to represent this vanishing point, it is possible to observe its self-possessed effects. There is no relevance to constraint for the sake of constraint in the medium, as if the demand for objective purposes could also encase a transcendental truth. Conditions can never be constrained, consolidated, determined as if they were stable.

What shifts through this orientation is the concern of art’s position. The particulars of art and exhibition, as materiality and enunciative field, are constituted and dispersed out of processes of ‘nature doing what nature does.’ No works of art are birthed out of a void, but are in keeping with the law of Conservation of Energy. Potency is a constant force that permeates the field; it generates all of the varying contingencies (objects, actions, ideas, texts, strategies, interpretations, etc.) The associated categories of life, art, text, commitment, are reconsidered under the potent condition that emanates their organization.

And while the Earth has often been a subject to painting, painting is subject to the Earth.

Deposition is a particular emphasis on the geologic qualities of painting. It is an encounter with the factuality of painting. But it is also a matter for aesthetic reflection. Painting’s factuality thus exists in correspondence with the imagination in its ability to evoke images. Forces engender forms and cross over into compositions and compositions cross over into forces outside of painterly agency, as a constant tension. The identity is always on the verge of sinking under the sediment.

The mere fact of the paint is never the entire aim, however, just as technique is never really the only concern, because content persists: painting is an involved process. The geologic process is unique in regards to other, more refined possibilities, because it consists of the potential towards self-differentiation. Involvement with this kind of painting tends to dissipate the abstract will (identity) into mineralization, asserting a corporeality and a kind of embodiment that appears immanent. The aim of aesthetic reflection is to therefore see oneself within this self-differentiation, as being encompassed by it, and ultimately, as a consequence of its condition.

In regards to painting’s self-referentiality, it is essentially a confrontation with its own death, or more specifically, with that chasm between painting’s ontology and the vanishing point.

Can I come to see myself as constituted by the world of contingency, as in a state of constant change? In what hidden or unrepresentable ways does this process of nature express the site where factuality meets the logos? This geology, as condition of possibility for the humic indwelling, determines the incarnation of ‘the flesh’ The flesh is the texture of worlds. The matter at hand is therefore what matters, or the mattering of matter: an alchemical process turning dross into gold, as an inflection by the ghost of beauty incarnate in the flesh.

…density, duration, animation, dissipation – ‘the creation of the world of art is the creation of the world,’ said Kandinsky.

Reposted with minor edits from Not So Solid Earth: Mineralizing the Imagination

 

 

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Planet of Microbes

post by Liam Heneghan

Microbes

Please join the Institute for Nature & Culture as we welcome DePaul Professor of English Ted Anton for a reading and discussion of his most recent book, Planet of Microbes: Perils and Promise in the Earth’s Essential Life Forms.  

Wednesday, April 4, 4:00-5:30 p.m., DePaul University, McGowan South, 204

[Ted’s] new book explores the latest discoveries that may reshape the future of our planet and our understanding of where we came from, detailing the ways in which the world’s tiniest, and sometimes most dangerous, microorganisms are being tapped as allies in seeking better health and a sustainable future.

From microbreweries to volcanic hot pools, the bottom of the ocean and miles below the earth’s surface, from our gardens to our bodies to Mars, a hidden living world is deepening our vision of life’s capabilities.

Planet of Microbes puts a new spin on a remarkable era as powerful new tools reveal the abilities of microbes that respire minerals, make our wine, and shape our climate, in ways that might have therapeutic relevance. A comprehensive yet integrated overview of the microbial world around us, integrating concepts from many different disciplines and drawing lines of interdisciplinary activity where normally people don’t see them, it reveals the ways in which microbes have shaped the planet and  all life around us.

 

See video from WTTW’s Chicago Tonight: http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2018/01/09/microbes-earth-s-oldest-and-most-essential-life-forms

Block quote from Anton’s website.

Image and book can be found here.

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The Fiscal Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment

Reposted from Chicago 350
By Larry Coble and Joe Antoun, CFP

Picture1

Executive Summary

Human civilization is swiftly proceeding toward the culmination point of a long-developing and holistic revolution in the energy sector for power generation, transportation and storage technology. With renewable energy sources, such as Solar PV and Wind generation gaining market share and experiencing dramatic price drops and projected to become the cheapest form of power generation by 20202, the installation and operation of alternative energy technologies will continue displacing 20th century carbon emitting energy generation facilities and transportation systems utilizing oil, coal and natural gas. According to a Morgan Stanley report of July 6th, 2017,

“Numerous key markets recently reached an inflection point where renewables have become the cheapest form of new power generation,” the bank said in a note.

“A dynamic we see spreading to nearly every country we cover by 2020. The price of solar panels has fallen 50% in less than two years (2016-17).”

Renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, are quickly becoming as cheap—even cheaper—than their carbon-intensive counterparts like coal.3

Rapid buildout and utilization of renewable technologies will create seismic shifts and disruptions in markets for energy and transportation, leaving incumbent technologies and fossil fuel assets experiencing diminished utilization, followed by becoming stranded and written off on balance sheets as losses. With the author’s having researched the topic from a multiplicity of sources from the business press, think tanks, investment houses, government agencies and academia, this paper reports the latest findings on the financial and technological viability of the following renewable energy technologies:

  • Solar PV
  • On-Shore Wind Generation
  • Battery Storage
  • Electric Vehicles (EV’s), including Automated versions

While the paper explores the current and future status of the above technologies, the document studies the future of fossil fuels and related infrastructure and the financial stakes of maintaining investments in oil, coal and gas.

While the transition from a fossil fuels to renewables is occurring, the shifts will not necessarily follow a slow trend path. The evolution of the marketplace may occur rapidly with sudden leaps, causing swift adaptation of newer technologies and displacement of older, fossil fuel based equipment and economics, much like smart phones rapidly displaced flip phones and land lines.4 Over the next 3 – 10 years, the energy technology revolution will begin displacing, sometimes swiftly, coal, oil and lastly gas as the prominent fuels for economic activity, allowing for renewables and storage technology to increasingly dominate the economic investment landscape for energy generation and transportation.

Key Findings:

  • Coal has lost 90% of its Market Capitalization and will not recover due to economic forces favoring renewable technologies. Increased world-wide regulations will further exacerbate the decline in coal utilization but will not prove the decisive factor in the future.5 Costliness of coal versus wind and solar will drive the fossil fuel from the marketplace as well as the infrastructural age of most coal burning power plants.6
  • Oil will hit peak demand between 2020 and 2023 with an estimated 2 million barrels per day(mbd) being removed from the market and the potential of 25 – 30 mbd by 2030, causing a slump in prices and driving costly oil fields from production, thus leading to diminishment in oil company valuations, especially corporations heavily invested in expensive Tar Sands and Shale extraction.7/ 8
  • Electric Vehicles (EV’s) and Autonomous Electric Vehicles (A EV’s) are poised to increase market share globally due to improvements in battery technology, scalability, lower manufacturing costs, advantages of longevity and the Transportation as a Service (TaAS) model of ride sharing already prevalent in major cities through companies such as Uber and Lyft. Worldwide regulations to meet COP21 climate goals will accelerate the changeover process from Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) to EV’s.9
  • Natural Gas will experience competition from cheaper renewable technologies such as Solar PV and On-Shore wind for power generation. Both renewable technologies will prove less costly to install, maintain and operate than conventional natural gas by 2020. According to Business Insider and Morgan Stanley, Solar and Wind “will be the cheapest source of power in the world in less than three years.”10
  • Battery Storage technology: “Demand for energy storage from the utility sector will grow more than the market anticipates by 2019-20,” the report from Morgan Stanley asserts. The demand for storage is expected to grow from a less than $300 million a year market to as much as $4 billion in the next two to three years. Battery Storage Technology will create conditions for “wind and solar to become a dependable rather than an unpredictable source of energy.”11

The following paper collates the findings of the business press, analyses from major investment houses, think tanks, government agencies and academic studies into a document depicting the rapid shifts and disruptions occurring in the energy and transportation sectors across the United States and the globe. The document attempts to gather and illustrate the growing consensus of financial, energy and transportation analysts regarding the forthcoming and ineluctable changeover from a fossil-fuel based economy to a system powered by renewable resources and the technology designed to capture, distribute, store and operate in the forthcoming new energy economy. While this document depicts a snapshot of market conditions in late 2017, the rapid shift toward energy sectors dominated by renewable energy technologies will only accelerate across the globe, leaving incumbent fuel sources and equipment with ever diminishing roles, moving to unviability and eventual elimination from the economy.

Thoroughly footnoted and utilizing reporting and analyses from esteemed outlets and organizations, the document outlines the multiplicity of reasons investors, especially cities, their operating budgets and their attendant pension funds should heed the gathering trend lines and begin the process of divesting from the fossil fuel energy sector. With renewables poised to gain increasing market shares, the oil, coal and gas sectors will undergo reduced demand trending toward zero due to economic and regulatory pressures from markets and government respectively, leaving assets in the ground and facilities designed to explore, mine, process and burn fossil fuels increasingly diminished in value and heading towards non-utilization, stranding and worthlessness.

Read the whole report here.

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Save the Date: Renewable Energy Panel, April 17th

Panel

Sponsored by the DePaul Institute for Nature and Culture

More details coming soon . . .

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Have Kids or Do Not Have Kids, But Let’s Not Blame Climate Change

by Liam Heneghan (reposted from 3 Quarks Daily)

 

Environmental calamity puts food on our family’s table. Thus, our kids grew up being aware of the full panoply of planetary horrors. Both boys are cognizant of what they are facing. My joy in parenting them notwithstanding, it’s fair to ask if we did them a disservice in birthing them into such a world.

I texted our boys to ask if they remain enthusiastic about the ambiguous gift we presented them in the light of what they now know about the world. Both answered in a way that reflects their adult interests. The eldest, a philosophy graduate student, texted: “There is no standpoint from which to sensibly ask whether life is going well, like a poker game, because there is no external standpoint.”

Continue reading here.

Liam Heneghan is a professor of environmental science and studies at DePaul University. His book, Beasts at Bedtime Revealing the Environmental Wisdom in Children’s Literature (University of Chicago Press) will come out in May 2018. https://www.amazon.com/Beasts-Bedtime-Revealing-Environmental-Literature/dp/022643138X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Liam’s tweets https://twitter.com/DublinSoil

Drawing by Liam Heneghan.

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Fossil Free Campaign Watch Party–January 31st

Reposted From Chicago 350

Hosted by Chicago 350

Wednesday, January 31 at 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM CST

Elastic Arts
3429 W Diversey Ave #208
Chicago, IL 60647

On January 31st, the day after Trump’s first State of the Union, movement leaders and community organizers will gather in Washington D.C. to share our plan to win. We will watch this live stream together here in Chicago.

The live stream event will feature Senator Bernie Sanders, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, Rev. Lennox Yearwood from Hip Hop Caucus, Jacqueline Patterson from the NAACP, Cherri Foytlin from BOLD Louisiana, Adriana Voss-Andreae from 350PDX, Varshini Prakash from the Sunrise Movement, Jessica Lorena Rangel from Eyes of a Dreamer, and many other exciting speakers and performances.

Thousands of people just like you will join watch parties around the country to learn more about the climate crisis and what some pipeline fighters, local climate champions and national progressive leaders are doing to fight back in 2018. And during your watch party, you can plot out what you need to do to win bold climate action in your hometown.

We will provide snacks, and the venue is BYOB

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